Digest of sports enterprise stories for weekend use, moving for Nov. 2-3. For questions, please call (212) 621-1630. For repeats, call the service desk at (800) 838-4616.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
NEW ORLEANS — Drew Brees doesn't do a whole lot to attract attention to himself. If anything, the father of three in his mid-30s is a poster boy for wholesome family values. When he is seen on nationally aired TV commercials, it is usually having a picnic with this family in New Orleans' Audubon Park or applying mentholated ointment to the chest of one of his young boys. Over the past several seasons, Brees has even made passing for around 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns look routine. And as he prepares for his next game in the nation's biggest media market, he's on pace to do it again. By Brett Martel. UPCOMING: 750 words and photos by 8 p.m. Thursday moving in advance for Nov. 2 release.
GAME OF THE WEEK
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Halfway through the season, Andy Reid has the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs (8-0) on a roll. Things don't look too bad in Buffalo, either, where a first-year NFL head coach, Doug Marrone, has the Bills (3-5) showing signs of being competitive. The two meet Sunday in a showdown the Chiefs would be well-advised not to overlook before entering a bye week. Banged up as the Bills have been, they've shown resilience, particularly at home, where they're 2-2, with the losses decided by a combined 5 points. By John Wawrow. UPCOMING: 800 words and photos by 8 p.m. Thursday moving in advance for Nov. 2 release.
FBN--ON FOOTBALL-WEAK ENCORES
The idea in all sports is to build off a playoff season. That message has been lost on the Falcons, Texans, Vikings and Redskins, also-rans all. Even the Super Bowl champion Ravens are under .500. By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. UPCOMING: 800 words and photos by 1 p.m. Friday moving in advance for Nov. 2 release.
FBN--NFL THIS WEEK
They came into the league together 37 years ago as expansion teams. One of them — the team that actually owns a Super Bowl title, the Buccaneers — looks like a new-to-the-NFL franchise. The other, the Seahawks, look like a championship favorite. On Sunday, the winless Buccaneers make the long journey to Seattle, where the Seahawks are practically unbeatable. A tall order for anyone, especially a team in disarray. By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. UPCOMING: 1,600 words and photos by 1 p.m. Friday moving in advance for Nov. 2 release.
DENVER — For Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, the first half of the season has been about both quantity and quality. Project No. 1 for the offense was to speed up things and run the no-huddle. By every measure, the project is working well. Over the first eight games, the Broncos' offense has run 593 plays compared to 536 over the first half of 2012. Manning and Co. have started 107 drives compared to 92 last season. And, most importantly, Denver's offense — not counting scores by the special teams and defense — has produced 319 points compared to 212 over the first eight games of last year. By National Writer Eddie Pells. UPCOMING: 800 words and photos by 8 p.m. Thursday moving in advance for Nov. 2 release.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Colin Kaepernick is the new breed of 49ers quarterback, a far cry from clean-cut Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young. While the tattooed, beanie-wearing, large headphone-sporting Kaepernick looks nothing like the team's two greats under center, he already has that winning swagger, and something else: a strong arm and fast legs. Kaepernick fully intends to follow in their footsteps and, he hopes, leave his mark and legacy on this proud franchise. As he nears the one-year mark from when he took over the starting job from 2005 No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith, Kaepernick has the NFC champion Niners (6-2) on quite a roll again: a five-game winning streak heading into the bye week. By Janie McCauley. UPCOMING: 800 words and photos by 8 p.m. Thursday moving in advance for Nov. 2 release.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Down 24-14 at halftime against the Chicago Bears two games ago, Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell was approached by a couple of key players. After five straight one-sided losses, they wanted changes. Nothing big. Just a few tweaks to simplify things. In the 10 quarters since Fewell agreed, the Giants (2-6) have given up three points on defense and notched their first two wins of the season. It's made the bye week tolerable. By Tom Canavan. UPCOMING: 800 words and photos by 10 p.m. Thursday moving in advance for Nov. 2 release.
TEMPE, Ariz. —- Bruce Arians spent two decades in the NFL preparing to be a head coach. Fate pushed him into the job at Indianapolis — temporarily. Now in charge in Arizona, he has his team at 4-4 in its bye week and the job seems to fit him like a well-worn glove. By Bob Baum. UPCOMING: 750 words and photos by 9 p.m. Thursday moving in advance for Nov. 2 release.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Losing every game by double digits and chasing NFL records for futility, the Jacksonville Jaguars have significant problems and plenty of blame to go around for them. No one knows if or when things will turn around, but there is a clear point where it all started to unravel. By Mark Long. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos by 8 p.m. Thursday moving in advance for Nov. 2 release.
DETROIT — The Detroit Lions, already with more wins than they had last season, have set themselves up to make a run toward the playoffs after their bye, thanks in large part to Calvin Johnson's talent, Matthew Stafford's moxie and Reggie Bush's versatility. By Larry Lage. UPCOMING: 750 words, photos by 8 p.m. Thursday moving in advance for Nov. 2 release.
FBN--NFL NOTES. UPCOMING: 1,000 words, photos by 1 p.m. Friday moving in advance for Nov. 2 release.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL 2013-14 PREVIEW:
John Calipari has been here before and it ended well. The last time the Kentucky coach had a freshman class this talented, the season ended with a national championship. This eight-man class, which includes six McDonald's All-Americans, has to make Kentucky fans forget last season which ended in a first-round NIT loss at Robert Morris, and think back to two years ago when a starting five of three freshmen — including Anthony Davis — and two sophomores won the NCAA title then all left for the NBA. By Basketball Writer Jim O'Connell. UPCOMING: 750 words and photos by 4 p.m. Thursday moving in advance for Nov. 2 release.
BKC--COLLEGE BASKETBALL GUIDE
Kentucky has another roster full of freshmen who look like future pros. Kansas has a class that's impressive even by coach Bill Self's standards, Sean Miller has done the same thing at Arizona and Duke has a potential lottery pick in Jabari Parker. With all these talented freshmen around the country, it figures to be an entertaining — and unpredictable — college basketball season. By Basketball Writer John Marshall. UPCOMING: 800 words and photos by 10 p.m. Thursday moving in advance for Nov. 2 release.
BKC--T25-BATTLE OF LA
LOS ANGELES — For the first time since 1979, UCLA and Southern California have changed basketball coaches at the same time. And they couldn't be more different. Steve Alford takes over at UCLA, inheriting a program that boasts a record 11 national championships and the heavy legacy of John Wooden. Andy Enfield takes his Dunk City reputation from Florida Gulf Coast to USC, where the basketball program has languished in the enormous shadow of the school's nationally prominent football team. By Beth Harris. UPCOMING: 800 words and photos by 10 p.m. Thursday moving in advance for Nov. 2 release.
Geno Auriemma is used to high expectations at Connecticut. With four starters back, including sensational sophomore Breanna Stewart, from last season's national championship team, the Huskies are poised to try and win a record ninth title and cut down the nets in Nashville at the Final Four. Standing in their way could be a trio of ACC schools with Duke, Maryland and conference newcomer Notre Dame all poised for great seasons not to mention national-runner up Louisville. By Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg. UPCOMING: 800 words and photos by 10 a.m. Friday moving in advance for Nov. 2 release.
WACO, Texas — Brittney Griner had an impressive four-season run at Baylor, when the 6-foot-8 star had plenty of highlight dunks and blocked shots. The Lady Bears made it to the NCAA Final Four her freshman season and then won a national championship in 2012 going undefeated with the NCAA's first 40-win season. They unexpectedly came up short last season with a loss to Louisville in the NCAA tournament regional semifinals. With Griner now gone to the pros, the Lady Bears will look to senior guard Odyssey Sims for leadership and have a much different look without that huge presence in the post. By Stephen Hawkins. UPCOMING: 800 words and photos by 10 p.m. Thursday moving in advance for Nov. 2 release.
BERKELEY, Calif. — Lindsay Gottlieb stood on the Great Wall of China in August alongside her diverse group of California players and watched them take in the life-changing experience. A young woman who grew up in Compton outside of Los Angeles, one from Belgium and another from Israel were there. From the Big Easy for the Final Four, back to the Bay Area, then off to Beijing. The Golden Bears are determined for another important adventure this season: Returning to the Final Four after making history with the program's first appearance last season. By Janie McCauley. UPCOMING: 800 words and photos by midnight Friday moving in advance for Nov. 2 release.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — No. 1 Alabama's rebuilt offensive line, which lost three All-Americans and two NFL first-round picks, was the biggest question mark in the Crimson Tide's bid for a third straight national title. Maligned early in the season, the group has kept quarterback AJ McCarron's jersey mostly spotless, opened gaping holes for the backs and answered the questions. By John Zenor. UPCOMING: 850 words and photos by 11 p.m. Thursday moving in advance for Nov. 2 release.
WACO, Texas — The Baylor Bears were the laughing stock of the Big 12 when Art Briles took over six years ago. They had been through 12 consecutive losing seasons under four coaches, including a 29-game conference losing streak that is still the Big 12's longest. They finally had a winning season in 2010, but certainly most everyone thought they had peaked in 2011 when quarterback Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy when the Bears won a bowl to cap a 10-win season. Maybe not. With an explosive offense outscoring opponents by even bigger margins than the lopsided losses they used to endure, the Bears (7-0) are No. 5 in the nation with arguably the most anticipated game in school history up next. By Stephen Hawkins. UPCOMING: 850 words and photos by 10 p.m. Thursday moving in advance for Nov. 2 release.
— AP Sportlight. UPCOMING.
— This Date in Baseball. UPCOMING.